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April 2nd, 2019

Netflix Agreement: NDP asks Court to force Canadian Heritage to comply with the Official Languages Act

OTTAWA – Almost two years after the government's announcement regarding its agreement with the American giant Netflix, NDP Official Languages Critic François Choquette (Drummond) intends to once again denounce the treatment of linguistic minorities.
In the $500 million investment agreement by the platform, only a $25 million envelope, the equivalent of 5% of the total amount, was allocated to develop the French-speaking market. Without any guarantee that French content will be produced. Few details are available, as the agreement is still subject to secrecy under the Investment Canada Act.

"Where is the equality among Canada's official languages in this case? This is a real shame in a country where 22% of the population’s first language is French and where there are 10 million French speakers," said Choquette. “This is a failure by the Liberal government and Francophones are paying the price.”

After filing an unsuccessful complaint with the Commissioner of Official Languages, the Commissioner decided to clear the government on the grounds that the rights of Francophones had not been violated. Choquette therefore filed a judicial review notice for the Office to redo its investigation, this time requiring that a version of the Netflix agreement be obtained. This review of the conclusions would determine whether or not the government's commitments to protect and promote linguistic minorities have been respected, pursuant to Part VII of the Official Languages Act.

Finally, the NDP Official Languages Critic is also initiating legal proceedings against Canadian Heritage for failing to honour its commitments under the Act.

"It may not be Netflix's role to promote official languages, but it is certainly the government's duty to protect both the French and English languages," added Choquette. “New Democrats will always protect the French language and stand up for Francophones across the country.”